Sisterhood, Jealousy, and Freedom

Five years ago, you could not find a more jealous individual than yours truly. If one of my beautiful female friends so much as talked to a guy I liked my mind would go straight to "wow they are really getting along, wow he must think she so much prettier than me, wow she sucks as a friend, I can't believe they will have babies in the next five seconds." Sad and silly...but all too true. Or I would get angry when friends of mine would "imitate" a style of mine. I would think "you don't have the right to get compliments for something I did first." Then it would be even worse when a dear friend, a fellow sister, would accomplish something that I had been striving to achieve myself. I would think..."I work hard, why do they get that reward before me? I deserve this." 

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It was about six months ago when I heard something that completely changed my mind about everything I used to believe and feel about what I just mentioned. I was tidying up my space, listening to the podcast Stuff Mom Never Told You. They were talking about social media, comparison, and all that good stuff. Then one of the hosts dropped one of the best truth bombs of all time:

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"Her success is not your failure."  

Maybe that seems simple to some, but that blew my mind. For years I wasted time and energy wishing something to change that was never going to. By not encouraging my fellow sisters I believe I was essentially wishing ill upon them. After some time of self discovery and many triumphs of my dear female friends I realized something huge: I was actually happy. Typing this I kinda feel like I used to be a huge jerk but I know I am not alone. So many of us have a really hard time encouraging our friends and not being jealous. But I am hear today to tell you that on the other side of that is something so beautiful and so freeing. And it will make you cherish your female friendships so much more. 

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The other day I sat having lunch with two of my best ladies. We talked about new job opportunities and where our lives were going. My friend looked at me and said she was so proud and happy for me. That she was so happy for the journey I was on and happy that I was being blessed in small ways during this time. We spent the remainder of our time relishing in each others small fortunes.

I have also had a few friends get engaged and married. And let me tell you, experiencing a wedding of a dear friend without a single bitter single bone in my body is a joyful experience. Or feel those tears of joy come on when a sister gets engaged. I love being that person. She's much more exciting than the one brewing in bitterness. That girl doesn't get out much. That girl is not free.

Now to my ladies who feel like nothing good has happened to them in a very long time, I see you. You are an inspiration. Because you keep going, and you inspire me to keep going. You are worth it and you are treasured. Fighting bitterness and jealousy is damn difficult. But know that there is a sweet haven waiting for you on the other side. Women deserve to embrace each other in that land of delicious freedom.

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Songs That Get Mental Health

In my life I have witnessed many people who have tried so hard to understand what it means to understand what it means to have struggles with mental health. I have also witnessed a few people who have chosen to accept that they will never understand what it means to have struggles with mental health. Its a hard position to be in. People with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, etc. want to be understood, but it can be next to impossible to explain to those around us...

For awhile I have been someone who enjoys sad songs. I like how they make me feel. No this isn't some dark and twisty thing... but more something in comparison to that subdued yet refreshed feeling after waking up from a two hour nap. I like how certain notes release certain chemical reactions in my brain causing me to feel something.  Then I realized that there was a lot of music out there that reminded me (explicitly or metaphorically) about what it means to live with mental health struggles. So I thought I would compile a list of my top songs that get mental health in order to possibly create an increase in understanding among those who want to learn more. 

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4. Gone Away by: Safety Suit

"Cause I'll be fine, oh don't you worry cause I'll be fine, you see I'm in a hurry to be gone away awhile." 

This is more of a stretched interpretation but the beauty of music is that it can mean different things to different people. But the main theme is about escaping. It talks about memories and the desire to simply get away from it all. Yet the tones hint at a sense of anger which reminds me of times where we try to convince people we are okay when really we need help. 

3. Breathing by: Ingrid Michaelson

"All we can do is keep breathing, all that I know is I'm breathing."

Another song that's not explicitly about mental health but encapsulates feelings that can be hard to articulate. The verses describe destruction going on around the world but then describe how all we can do is breath. Sometimes within the realm of mental health, there is not a lot that can be done during certain moments. But the biggest help one could give someone who is struggling is to remind them to keep breathing. They are here, they are alive, you are continuing to breath together. 

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2. Sour Breath by: Julien Baker

"The harder I swim the faster I sink"

If you don't know anything about Julien Baker, you really need to. She has experienced struggles with addiction and mental health. Her songs are devastating but oh so beautiful. This song speaks a lot to addiction and the toxic relationships that come along with that. 

1. Appointments by: Julien Baker

" Maybe it's all gonna turn out alright and I know that its not but I have to believe that it is"

Yes Julien Baker is my top two. Because she gets it. Never has a piece of art understood depression so deeply. If you are going to only listen to one of these songs, make it this one. 

Now I don't want you to look at this as just a mini playlist to make you sad. Yes it may make you sad but allow it to open your mind. Increased understanding is only a good thing. 

 

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Queer Eye, CMBYN, and Mr. Rogers

There is a breakthrough happening in our world. And it's happening through two of my favorite mediums: Movies and television. More and more productions are being made that are not only gaining popularity but they are allowing viewers to do something they haven't done in awhile: give themselves permission to feel. 

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I recently went and saw the Mr. Rogers documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor? And like most people, I was completely wrecked by the time the credits rolled. The theater that was playing this movie had people placing full boxes of tissues next to each seat. I had heard many people on social media posting about how the theater was doing this and initially I thought it was a cute little added bonus to the movie going experience. Then when I thought about it more I realized that whether or not intended, this was a big deal. I looked at it as a symbol of unity among the viewers. An expression of "hey we know this message is going to impact everyone, do not feel like you need to hide." And of course throughout the last half of the film you hear a chorus of sniffles and people pulling at the tissue box. I looked around the theater and noticed a man repeatedly taking off his glasses in order to wipe his face.  I then thought of all the men who have and will be watching this movie. How many of them would reflect on their childhood and finally let their suppressed emotions be free. Obviously women struggle with bottling things up but I think there is a movement coming and being emotional will not longer be associated with being "un- manly". Being emotional is just part of being a person.

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I went home and put on one of my favorites Call Me By Your Name, which I've written about here before in one of my earlier blog posts. While this is not a movie I would recommend everyone seeing (the age gap in the relationship can be a little weird) I found it so fascinating to hear people tell me what they thought of this film. The overall response was it was a film that just allowed them to BE. The story is just simply human, about people trying to find purpose and meaning. The journey to this discovery can be awkward or uncomfortable but at the end of this film it drives home the point that suppressing feeling will only lead to humans being more miserable. We have to tend to the fires of our pain and feeling, not blow it out.  

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Now talking about how Queer Eye is changing the world could really be its own novel. And wow is this show changing the world. I don't think the world was expecting how moved it would be by a revamp reality makeover show. Like my other examples here it is giving humans permission to break down. It examines human lives and shows the world that we all share the same humanity. People want to love and be loved. I love it when Mamma Tammy (Season 2 episode 1) talks to the fab five about how The Lord knew what He was doing when he put these men together and now look at the impact that has taken place. And how each and every one of them is God's son. Seeing the guys emotional response to a southern christian woman tell them they are loved and adored by God is life changing.  

Whether you are a man, woman, gay, straight, young, old, black, white (I could go on forever) you deserve to feel free. You deserve to dig up the pain from your past then leave it at the door. More and more of us are realizing this truth. More and more of us are seeing that we are not all that different. Nothing is uniting us more right now than the power of vulnerability. We are truly not alone and we can do this whole life thing together, just don't forget the tissues. 

The World Needs Your Art

Lately, I've been feeling less than inspired. I feel like my head is spinning with a million half ideas with no clue how to execute them, then my mind just goes blank. And that can be a really tough feeling. To feel like there is so much you want to be able to do...but for some reason you can't go passed that point. I don't like that. 

Then there are those moments of doubt. Those moments where we can doubt are abilities so we do nothing. We can compare our gifts to others and feel inadequate. But here is what I have learned: The World needs your art.

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Maybe you are looking at yourself saying you are not "a creative" but you are. Everyone needs an outlet of expression and everyone has an ability to add something special to the world. When I see people pursuing their creative dreams I feel so much joy. Maybe it does not grant them "success" but they keep at it. Because they know who they are and they know they are meant to feel that joy when the brush hits the canvas or when that first sound hits the microphone.  

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I remember about 8 months ago I was with my good friend and we were flipping through a modern photography book. As I flipped through the pages I vocally expressed my annoyance at how simple the concepts were and said the cliched phrase "this is dumb I could totally do that." Then my friend quickly added "but you didn't, and this person did." Now this interaction was very much in a joking manor but it stuck with me. I knew there was so much I could be doing but I wasn't. I am very thankful for that spring board of inspiration that really pushed me to do more. 

So whatever skills you posses (and you do have skills) we need them. I need them. The world needs your interpretation. Want to be a photographer? PLEASE DO IT. You deserve to have your interpretation be seen by the world. Who cares if everyone and their mom is being a photographer, I'm sure they won't mind if you become one too. So make your movie, paint a picture, build a table, write a book, I can't wait to see it. 


Here are some Instagram accounts that inspired this blog post (you should follow them):

@jack_the_cheney

@canceledplansmusic

@m_r_s_love

And if you want to follow on my art journey:

@m.love.designs

More Than A TV Show

To Matthew, for all the nights we spent watching TV waiting for our lives to get better, I think its safe to say we've made it. 

I want to write to you today about one of the most important things in my life. Something that changed my life and the lives of those I surrounded myself with. I want to write to you today about NBC's The Office. 

Now before you go into reading this post thinking it'll be something humorous or silly, I want you to know this is something that is actually a really serious deal to me, and I would love to share why to you, lovely reader, so lets begin. 

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I have this very vague memory of 2005, I was in fifth grade. I remember finally being able to stay up past 8 o clock and watch prime time shows with my brother. I was so excited to finally do something that a "big kid" would do and also excited to share a common interest with my super cool big brother. Those are about all the details I can remember from The Office entering my life because honestly, when I look back on my life its hard to remember the times where this show wasn't in it.  

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It was cool to grow up developing a quirky and odd sense of humor that would completely fit in at Dunder Mifflin. Or to go through all of my awkward boy crush's while Jim and Pam kept dancing around the fact that they loved one another.  And to then feel extreme heartbreak my last year of High school while Jim and Pam where experiencing tough marital issues. We were experiencing life at the same time. 

I remember many instances when I would have some depressive episodes, and I would lay on the couch and watch re runs of The Office for hours. It felt like home to me. Then there were times my brother would come into my room when I would be so distraught I had no idea what to do, and he would ask if I wanted to watch The Office. We would sit together, not talking but just enjoying each others company. It reminded me of one of the my favorite ways therapists tell you to be there for someone: you don't give advice, you don't talk, but you are simply present. It still to this day is one of the greatest gifts I could've ever been given. 

As I got older I loved researching behind the scenes of the show. Seeing how almost every actor was kind and caring, and also truly loved the people they were working with. I will never forget the week after my 16th birthday, it was Steve Carrel's last episode. I sat on my couch in tears as my favorite TV character closed a chapter in my favorite story. I loved how the moment when Pam says goodbye to him in the airport was a true and genuine moment. Jenna Fisher was actually telling Steve Carrel how much she loved him and how much she would miss working with him.  To this day I can't watch that moment without crying. 

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The point is that things can be brought into our lives and be used in a much greater way than we could ever imagine. That's just how God works.  Me and my brother would bond with our friend Jenny over watching the office, only a few more years later Jenny would become his wife and the best addition to our family. The last episode of the show aired the night before my last day of high school. Matthew and I invited many friends over as we laughed and cried and enjoyed our time together. I went into my last day of high school excited and ready to take on whatever the world had for me. And of course I now have days where I doubt, but I just remember that young girl who knew she could conquer the world. 

"No matter how you get there or where you end up, human beings have this miraculous gift to make that place home." - Creed Bratton

 

Why I Hate Waiting Rooms

Waiting rooms make me uncomfortable. Doctors stress me out. I think the dentist is a terrible place to be. Obviously I felt this way as a kid but in a way it has almost gotten worse as I have gotten older. Now this is not some irrational fear that I have but more a growing discomfort at how uncomfortable these places have become.

I remember how much of a pain it was to move states and change doctors simply because I take medicine on an ongoing basis. When I arrived in Florida, I remember meeting with my new doctor and how much I hated the experience. I remember being weighed for the first time in about six months (cause I really don't think we should be weighing ourselves all the time) and the number was not something I wanted. Yet five minutes before I was feeling fine...and a stupid number acted like a wrecking ball to my self esteem. Then my doctor proceeded to ask me why I took so much medicine...she kept repeating herself "wow this is a lot...do you really need this much?" My normally confident self became paralyzed. I hate that it is so hard to stand up to someone just because they have a white coat on. Because I knew the way she was speaking to me was not professional and it made me feel judged. 

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Back in March I made a visit to the hospital to meet a psychiatrist. Nothing major, just a simple check up on my medication. Yet I was nervous. Once I got there I had to fill out the typical new patient paper work and that may be my least favorite part. You look at a list of symptoms and have to check off a box...to show why you are here. The principle of that just bothers me. "OK, I have anxiety, check the box." Have I accomplished something? Have I made my way down a to do list? I don't think so.

Now lets talk about my ultimate favorite...the dentist. The typical dentist fear I have gotten over, what I may never get over is there ongoing interest in having to know about my non "dentist related" medicine I take. The last time I went to the dentist, the dental assistant told me that the medicine I take may have something to do with the fact that I grind my teeth in my sleep. I politely told her that I new this already (when I could have raised my voice and let her know this is something that has been going on in my life over ten years and I am very educated on this matter) she looked at me surprised then proceeded to treat me like a delicate child. I was there just to get basic x rays done.   

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So for those of you out there who have maybe just started making your own appointments, or have been doing it for years, I am proud of you. I hope we can learn and grow together, while learning to ask the right questions to people such as doctors and dentist. As well as learn to stick up for ourselves when we feel uncomfortable.

13 Reasons Why: Thoughts and Opinions

Last week I finished the second season of the controversial Netflix show 13 Reasons Why. Like most people who have watched this season I finished feeling angry, frustrated and sad. Many times throughout these 13 episodes I yelled at the tv,  or cursed at my laptop late at night, and texted my friend Rachel in all capital letters sharing my various thoughts. Unlike a lot of people I don't hate this show. I find the story gripping and the characters interesting. But there is so much more about this show that needs to be unpacked that goes far beyond a gripping story. 

Now lets take a few steps back: I believe the first season was quiet good. While I would get frustrated about how this show was advertised as a tool to spread mental health awareness instead of a tool to shed light on bullying, I thought it was a well made show. The acting was good and it talked about some very real and timely problems.  I finished the first season with even more of a passion to make sure that younger generations feel seen and valued. Of course the first season is not without it's problems but those have been discussed in length for over a year now.  When I look at the second season however, I did not leave that viewing experience inspired to change the world and make it better, I felt far more troubled. 

The second seasons picks up a short time after the first season finishes. Hannah Bakers parents are suing her high school for being responsible for her suicide/not helping when they easily could have. Each episode goes through a different character(s) testifying in order to help either Hannah's parents or the school. As I watched each episode I felt further invested into the story. I wanted to see some sort of justice come about for the many injustices that have taken place on this show. Topics such as sexual assault, bullying and gun violence are discussed and portrayed on this show (as many of you already know). I firmly believe these topics should not be avoided but I sit here wrestling with this idea that the show runners intentions have been vastly misplaced. 

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(Mature Content and Spoilers From This Point On)

My main issue with the second season is the last episode. As is the issue for many more individuals who have watched this show. The last episode shows the characters finally being able to have a funeral for Hannah. Speeches are made that speak to the idea of closure as well as being able to let go of people we love. The sentiments are heartfelt and important, showing the audience that there is a time and place to move forward from tragedy.  There is then a sequence showing everyone resuming Hannah's celebration of life at the local coffee shop. Everyone is displaying what true community should be and you see the characters finally coming to terms with the tragedy's that have taken place. Even Jessica, a key character discusses the peace she finally feels even though her and Hannah's rapist didn't end up getting jail time. Everything begins to wrap up nicely and would've been a fine end to this series. 

Then the last half hour of the episode happens. We see one of the male characters, Tyler (seen as an outcast) be brutally sexually assaulted by a group of guys on the baseball team. It is absolutely horrifying. Tyler then shows up to the school dance with multiple firearms ready to make his own justice. Luckily he is stopped by the main character, Clay. Now I am normally not the kind of person who would shy away from certain content to make a point, but in this context it just feels so wrong. Mental health experts who worked on the show even stated that trying to be "the hero" and stop a shooter in that manner is not what you should do. 

Brian Yorkey, the executive producer of the show, talks about how Tyler's scenes were made the way they were in order for the audience to experience radical empathy. He said the purpose was so that whatever feelings one may have for Tyler's character that in the moment of seeing his assault, we all feel his pain therefore showing we all share the same humanity. He also talks about how not portraying X, Y, and Z in the media does not make it go away, it only means we are not talking about it. There is a part of me that could see his side but looking back on this shows second season and how it started to organically wrap up the only purpose I could see with these scenes is: shock value and making money. I feel as though my opinion was even more confirmed when I found out this show was renewed for a third season. Let us not forget that the entire first season covered the book it was based off of. There are no more books, and it feels like the story is just grasping at straws. 

So much more could be said about this show and the topics surrounding it but I will wrap up with this: this is a show that has been marketed to a younger audience and that is dangerous. The ideas presented are dangerous. There are better ways to help our beloved youth and exploiting tragedy in order to shock people is not the way to do it. 

Singleness And Sunday School

I am single. I've been single for a long time. I love being single, I really do. I love only having to worry about my schedule and doing activities that I like to do. But I am also frustrated about relationships. Not in the way you may be thinking but more in the sense that I believe I was mis-educated about relationships most of my life. So today I want to unpack some things that I wish I had not been taught. 


Lets talk about good ole Sunday school. First off, the older I get the more I cringe at the things church taught me when I was a kid. I have a vague memory from maybe 6th grade of an illustration that was done during morning youth group. We were shown a paper heart that was supposed to represent our own. We were told a hypothetical story about us going through a middle school break up, a high school break up, then a broken engagement. Each time a break up happened a bigger piece of the paper heart was ripped off then we were left with a small piece of what used to be so much bigger. Maybe a fair point was driven home after this ridiculous demonstration but I am going to talk about this how I remember it. That made me feel like I should avoid relationships. It made me feel like relationships were a bad thing. So why try them? But what about the fact that God can heal any form of heart break? And maybe the fact that a relationship that doesn't end in a marriage and children is not something we have to regret?

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Something else I have been bothered by is making young people feel bad for being in relationships. When I was in  high school it felt like every adult would shame anyone my age for having a boyfriend or girlfriend. Now I know there are a lot of exceptions to this and most young relationships do not last... but why should we always think young+relationship= bad news? Are we talking to younger people about their relationships or are we automatically placing judgment on them? I never had a serious relationship in middle or high school, but I know lots of people who have and they have lasted a long time. And yes I also know lots of people who had relationships young and it was a disaster. Some younger folks date because they feel pressured into it... like they need to be dating. But I firmly believe not all are this way. And if two high schoolers have a serious relationship and it doesn't end in marriage, well I don't think any part of them should wish they never dated in high school. There is a place to learn and grow from everything without regret. So lets try to not write off couples because they are "too young" but instead get to know these individuals and see why they've ended up where they are. 

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When I would think about my future partner, I would think it would be someone that I was friends with first then we would begin a romantic relationship. I think that is another issue that needs to be brought up. Yes, I firmly believe your partner should be your best friend. But I think we (especially Christians) can get so caught up in this idea that we won't try to find someone for ourselves. If I had a nickel for every time someone told me the moment I stopped looking for my future husband that he would basically appear, I would be very rich. And honestly, that makes me angry.  What is wrong with Christians dating? I used to think it was so wrong for a woman to go out with a man once then go out with a different man the next week. Why shouldn't I search for my ideal partner? Now I go back in forth looking for someone and also wanting nothing to do with dating. Is that why I haven't found someone yet? Because I'm not all together giving up on the search and letting him find me? No. It's because I do not know what I want yet. And that is okay! 


Some weeks I feel like I have so much love to give, other weeks the idea of a relationship makes me want to crawl into a hole and stay there. So moral of the story is, I think a lot of christian woman have been brought up believing the wrong ideas about dating and relationships. Like most seasons in life; the point is to focus on becoming the best versions of ourselves with The Lords guidance and everything else will fall into its proper place. 

Having It All

There is always a hesitancy to claim this but I've got Jesus so I need to own this season: This may be the happiest I have been in a very long time. Looking at where my life is some may say "Really, Michaela?!" but its true.


 What I find so fascinating about human beings is there ability to adapt and make a situation great even if circumstances are not that way. Most of you know I have moved a few times, and there was a moment where I thought, I will never feel settled down, I would be in one place, feel connection, then leave to go somewhere else. Even though I've been blessed to go back and visit those places or have people come visit me, that was almost worse than moving. You have a piece of your heart put somewhere else then when you have one of those visits your heart feels more complete only to be broken yet again. I remember the first time I went back to visit a place I had moved away from, I was 17 at the time. I remember coming to the realization that after this trip was done, I would say my goodbyes all over again. Each year after that was like living in a painful and continuous loop. So as I mentioned before, I decided I would always feel unsettled and I came to terms with that as well as accepted it. The intention behind that realization was good, I still believe that, but I think there was a part of me that was willing to not live the best life that God has for me. 

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This isn't going to be a blog post about the "5 easy steps to making your life perfect" because there is not formula to it. And also my life is far from perfect. In fact there are so many things going on that are really hard. Yet I sit here so happy. Confusing? Maybe. But why should it be? I get so sad when I see myself (or even more so with others) being depressed because they are so not okay with how their life is.  We are not meant to live like this. Our lives are constantly changing and we are being put in situations where we are always needing to adjust somehow. And that can make us feel like maybe we will never be happy or worse, never find joy. Luckily joy can win against any circumstance. And wow am I so grateful for that. 

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Recently, I went back to Michigan (where I used to live) for a second visit. Now this is the first place I have gone back to visit more than once since I have moved. It was an amazing time. And maybe first the first time I was able to go there, have the best time, enjoy every moment and still feel happy to go back to Florida and enjoy everything God's given me there. Ya'll this is a huge deal...something that took about six years to figure out. I finally understood how to have both: love what I currently have and really that's it. Because loving what I "used" to have in places I used to live in isn't the right phrasing. No that life there is not mine but the love of the memories and the people will always be mine. Michigan will always feel like home, but that doesn't always mean it's where I need to be. We can make anywhere our home, and our life can flourish . I love where I live, I love where I used to live. Life is good. 

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Maybe you haven't moved a lot and the connection does not make sense to you. But I want you to know this: even if your life seems out of control you still have the ability to have joy. My life is not perfect but right now where I am sitting, I am the most joyful girl in the world. Because God wants to give me every single blessing and He feels the same way about you. I am thankful for you, lets continue on this crazy wonderful adventure of life. 

 All the love, Michaela 

All the love, Michaela 

Big Girl Job Reflections.

The first semester of my first "big girl" job has come to a close (until summer programs begin), therefor I thought it would be a good idea to sort of reflect on these past few months. With the nature of my job I cannot be crazy specific or include pictures of me on the job but I still believe some good can come out of this post so lets get started:

I suck at my job. And I am 100% okay with that. This is not some self deprecating statement or something that I am claiming so people will pay me compliments or feel sorry for me. That is really not the case. For most of high school and college and had mentorship roles in many young ladies lives and I felt like I was pretty awesome at it. I loved the girls and the girls loved me. Over all it was a near perfect situation. So when I saw an opportunity to apply for a girls mentorship non profit I instantly thought I would be a shoe in and would also rock this job... it would be a piece of cake. 

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During that time I am sure God was chuckling and saying "Michaela you have no idea what I have in store for you." I remember coming home from my first full day...as soon as I walked through my front door I cried harder than I had in a very long time. The days always went back and forth from being extremely difficult to being sort of hard. I wanted so badly to relate to these girls but I knew nothing about what most of them go through. In the school district I help out in about 20% of children come from a two parent home. That means 80% of those kids live with one parent. On my first day I remember telling a girl to put a toy away and she could bring it back out when her parents came to pick her up. She asked me if I meant parent because she only had one. Her voice was so normal, like she assumed that was not what I meant to say. 

The girls would make references to things I knew nothing about. It was like I was a seventy-five year old in a room of teenagers. If I had a nickle for every time one of them said something along the lines of them not liking me I would be very rich. Many days it would feel like I was trying way to hard and nothing felt natural. Some days I would get a hug from the same girl who yelled at me the day before. Other days I would have a genuine deep conversation with one of the girls then she would go back to disliking me the next day. I would think to myself "This is supposed to be my thing, this was what I was good at."

During this time I thought back to my second to last semester of college. One of my classmates had shared something very profound. She was about to go off to her big girl gig and The Lord reminded her of something: she was not qualified for what she was doing, none of us are. But God would give her the tools she needed. Then a dear friend of mine sent me a quote talking about how when we are in a place where we have no clue what we are doing, feel unqualified, confused, scared, etc. that is exactly where God wants us. He is using us for something so much bigger than we could ever imagine. We just can't see it right now. 

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My job has more difficult days than it has easy ones. But wow is this job so important. I have been so incredibly humbled by Jesus. He showed me that no matter how much I think I know, there is always more. He showed me that my strength as a human will get me nowhere but He will get me everywhere. He showed me that there is so much more I need to learn about racial and social inequality... because no matter how many hashtags we use or articles we share, we will never understand even a fraction of another persons pain. Research and awareness are great but it means nothing until you look someone in the eyes who lives differently than you. And even then there is still so much more that can be done. 

Be thankful for the challenges. Be thankful for learning. Be thankful for hard work that may not get recognized. It sucks. But when you can come to a place of acceptance and lay down your pride, the overflow of joy from that pain is the sweetest thing there is. 

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No I Won't Smile For You

Raise your hand if there has been a time where you have been minding your own business, whether in your office or walking around the store, and someone approached you and told you to smile? Maybe they said "you'd look more pretty if you smiled" or "You really should smile more." or maybe my personal favorite "You look tired" (yes this falls into the same category). An even bigger favorite is when a stranger tells you to smile and then they try to flirt with you (I could really go on for a while). 

I am aware that these kinds of situations can happen to so many different kinds of people, men or woman. But I think it is safe to bet that this happens all the time to so many woman. And the people who give this "advice" or mostly men. 

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When I was in college, I lived and worked near campus, as did most people I knew. Therefore we were always walking everywhere. It became almost a daily occurrence where I was hearing that a female friend was being told to smile as she walked to work, or to class. I hated how often this was going on. So one day I took to Facebook to vent (yes I know, not always a great idea). I explained how it is very unappreciated when people are told they should smile, or are told they look tired, etc. I said that many of us are just trying to get through the day and most of the time, the people addressing us have no idea what are day has been like. After the status was posted many woman took to the comments. It was awesome. They all vented to each other and let out their frustrations, and all supported one another. I felt very happy to see some positive dialogue happening on social media.

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Then a couple men crashed the comments. Certain things were said such as "Lighten up" or "Whoa lets just be happy now". Lemme tell you I was furious. I then took to Instagram saying that Women will lighten up when Men decide to grow up. Following this post I received comments from different men saying they totally supported me and that I should keep fighting the good fight. 

I am very thankful for those men. I am also thankful to the men who left the Facebook comments. Both groups included good men that I have known for years. More times than not, this issue revolves around men speaking down to women. But I think at an even larger scale it is about humans: We do not know how to deal with the "negative emotions" of others. People see someone who doesn't "appear" happy and they get uncomfortable. (Now this does not excuse the actions that I have previously mentioned, because sometimes people are just being a**holes). But I think so many people are getting uncomfortable with others "lack of happiness" and for some reason think it is that other persons responsibility to fix their discomfort.  

You do not have to be happy all the time. You do not have to look happy all the time. Keep working hard and doing good like you do every day. You don't owe the jerk on the street or that obnoxious co worker anything. I know there are so many more sides to this issue that I did not address here today but I'd love to have a productive discussion with you about it. Never hesitate to email me. 

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A little side note, I even felt nervous with the photos I took for this. I felt like I needed to maybe include photos of me smiling. But then I chose not too. I love the way I look in photos where I do not smile. Its intense, and I think it is beautiful. 

Finally, to the rest of you, please do not comment on how someones face looks. It is rude. If you feel uncomfortable when someone isn't showing 100% happiness, ask yourself why? We all are going through things everyday that are not easy. And on days we aren't, sometimes that is just how someones face rests. And no matter what they are beautiful and should never apologize for it. 

Coffee Chats: My Dad (Part 2)

Welcome back friends! Here is the rest of the interview from 2 weeks ago. I hope you enjoy:


Christians believe that Jesus is going to return and renew our earth, has this mindset affected how Christians treat the world now?  What type of responsibilities should Christians embody when it comes to taking care of our earth? 

 

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Yes, the Christian Scriptures clearly teach that Jesus will one day restore/renew all things in heaven and on earth – it is a universal, cosmic restoration (Col. 1:20).  The restoring work of Christ is as wide as creation itself, it is not limited to people only (people are the center of that restoration, but not the circumference – that is the rest of creation).  Unfortunately, not all Christians have allowed this important truth to be represented or reflected in their lifestyle – particularly as it relates to how they treat and steward creation around them.  For some it has, and for that I am grateful.  As Christ followers (as this goes all the way back to the Creation account in Genesis) we have a responsibility to practice what is called ecological justice – to steward our land responsibly and with care. 

 

I love how many neighborhoods and churches are putting this into practice by creating community gardens, being intentional with recycling projects and events, and making sure pastors drive a Prius.  These are just some ways to demonstrate responsibility.  A number of years ago, I heard about a church that wanted to build a new facility by using only recyclable products – now that’s commitment!  To have dominion over the land (to use a Genesis expression) does not mean to dominate it, it means to steward it wisely as a gift from God – not just for our generation, but for all other generations to follow; that is why we are to “till and keep” the land (allow the land to serve us while at the same time preserving it … serve and preserve as the saying goes).

The Incarnation teaches us many things – and one of those things it teaches us, is that matter matters to God … so it should matter to us.  So why not take a moment right now and go hug a tree - also, look at it directly and say, “I am Root”, and see what happens.

 

Many Christians use church doctrines (teachings) as a form of judgement over/against people – what are your thoughts on this?

 As the Apostle Paul put it, the goal of all doctrine/instruction is love (see 1 Timothy 1:5).  Let me unpack this a bit by sharing what I believe truth to be all about.

 

What sets people free is truth – not truth as a rational entity, but as a relational one.  Jesus says it is the truth that frees us, and that he himself is truth – so it is a relationship with Jesus that ultimately sets us free – free to being and living into all that God created us to be.  And Jesus was pretty clear about his mission on earth – he did not come to condemn (i.e. judge) the world but to save it (see John 3:17).  

 

I love how the Beloved disciple describes truth: Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 Jn. 3:18).  Here we see that John equates truth, not with words or speech, but with loving action.  Truth is love that is embodied in an action towards someone – that is what I mean by truth being a relational enterprise, not a rational one.  In saying this, I am not saying truth is irrational – far from it!  Truth solely as a rational entity becomes a fact, and facts do not set people free.  For example, Fact:  Jesus is Lord – that will not set you free; Truth:  embrace Jesus as Lord in your life – that will set you free … you see the difference? 

 

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It is therefore, my conviction, that doctrine, church teachings, Biblical instruction, etc. are ultimately about bringing liberation and freedom to people – similar to putting a fish stuck on a beach back in water or an uprooted plant back into good soil and sunlight (or at the least, pouring water over the fish and giving the plant a taste of healthy soil/sunlight). The water we were created to swim in, the soil we were meant to be planted in, is love.  So, when we connect with people in love, patiently and intentionally overtime, (not holding their sins against them – remember that is the kind of love Jesus exhibited [see 2 Cor. 5:19 along with 1 Cor. 13:4-8]) we are bringing the water, the soil and the sunlight they need! And in doing this we will awaken them to their inner most longing to be in a relationship with Jesus, and their hunger to jump into that divine water!

 

This is what the “perfect love” that John is writing about in 1 John 4:18 – a love that casts out fear and has nothing to do with punishment.  Love is not judgmental, it is invitational.  Jesus took on all judgement upon him by dying on the cross – ALL OF IT!  So, I say, whatever the circumstance, the sin, the brokenness, the pain, the shame, the guilt is – let’s all move towards people with loving kindness and allow Love to prevail!

(Note: Some might ask, but what about all those harsh teachings of Jesus – like his 7 woes in Matthew 23 or his teaching in Matthew 25 about the sheep and the goats?  That’s another blog for another time – but let me say this now, many have taken these verses [and many other similar ones] out of their unique context; and because of this have misunderstood what Jesus’ is teaching).


Thank you all for listening. I hope you enjoyed this first series of coffee chats. xoxo.

Coffee Chats: My Dad (Part 1)

Let me introduce George Allan Love, also known as Allan, also known as my dad. I've wanted to do a scattered series of sorts where I interview people with different backgrounds and skill sets. Nothing is better then broadening our horizons. Picking my first interviewee was a no brainer. My dad has a bachelors in Theology, Masters in Biblical Studies, and a Doctoral degree in Missional Leadership. Most of my interactions with intellectuals can honestly can be quiet aggravating, but never with my dad. I've always loved the way his mind works and how he uses his knowledge to better the world. He sees the world in such a humble way and greatly inspires me to pursue what God has for me, not for personal gain, but because it is whats right. 

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I popped over on Instagram to see what kind of questions you wanted me to ask him and ya'll came up with some GREAT stuff. Since we both found the great importance of the questions you were asking we thought it would be best to break this up into a few parts so each question got the attention it deserves. 


Q: First off, for those who don't know you that well, how would you describe yourself? Likes, dislikes, favorite pass times?

For those who see the value in personality profiling (as I do – there, you’ve already learnt one thing about me that I like) I’m a mixed-breed on the Enneagram (Type 3 and 5 – an intellectual achiever), and E/ISTJ on the Myers Brigg Type (Executor-Driver), Red-Zone Reformer on the Insights Discovery Profile, and most importantly, a child of God, on the Bible scale.  Descriptors that have been used by others for me (which I resonate with) are: passionate, determined, sexy (okay – that may not have been said about me), focused and resilient.  I may come across … no let’s be honest and change that … I do come across as non-emotive to some, but I feel my emotions very deeply – and I know this because I find myself listening, often, to Josh Groban and tearing up.

I love to read and run, as well chill with family and friends over coffee or a nice glass of white wine.  I dislike people who talk too much, but not when they have drunk to much wine, because that can be very funny!  I enjoy a good crime-thriller movie every-once in-a-while.  When I took those career tests in high-school my top result was a detective, but pastoring paid so much more, I decided to go in that direction.

Ultimately, I am a human who is learning to see that every element of life is ready to burst forth the beauty, glory, and love of God – we just need to be willing look long enough to see it.

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Q: How do you think your education has impacted your personality?

I am truly grateful for my educational journey that has taken me all the way through a doctorate degree.  I went to institutions that encouraged and equipped me to think outside the box, and to color beyond the lines.  At times, boxes and lines can be good and necessary, like when you need to wrap a birthday present or know where the 400m race finishes, but when it comes to innovative and fresh thinking they can be an impediment.  On the Strengths-Finder profile my top strength is that of a Learner – there is a part of me that is a perpetual student, so my education has fueled that part of me.  At the same time, however, knowledge (this is the Type 5 in me) has become for me on more occasions that I would like to admit, a security blanket, as well as a protective shield that I have been able to hide behind when I feel insecure.  So, I need to be mindful of this reality and intentional in addressing it.  

Q: Was there any information you learned during your educational journey that really challenged you? Did it change the way you approached your faith?

I grew up in a broken home (my parents separated when I was 8 years old which wreaked havoc on my emotions/soul) which transitioned me from a homo-sapien to a solo-sapien – doing life on my own because people could not be trusted (they will always let you down). A big and challenging part of my education was that true transformative learning needed to happen in community and relationships, that’s how we have been created.  Learning in isolation (whatever the topic or subject) will always lead to some form on insulation, limiting my growth as a human being and Christ-follower.  True learning happens in the fiber and fabric of real, authentic, life-on-life relationships.  

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Q: Could you talk about your take on egalitarianism and complementarianism  as well as  what the Bible says about it... can the church be doing better when it comes to female pastors and church leaders?

I consider myself both a complementarian and an egalitarian.  Complementarian in that God created male and female each with unique characteristics that are to complement each other; and precisely because of that, we truly need each other in the equal and full expression of all gifts - especially with the gifts leadership, pastoring, and teaching … and that is why I am an egalitarian.  This, is what I believe the narrative of Scripture says about this most important subject.  There are segments in the church universal that need to recognize how they have stunted, caged and neutered the full expression of so many gifts by limiting how certain gifts are exercised based on one’s sex.  In doing this, churches are (re)marginalizing what God has come to un-marginalize, and this breaks my heart.  So, yes, there are churches that could do a much better job.


Stay tuned for more next week. Thank you for taking the time to read and listen. The point of this is to simply learn and open our minds to what the knowledge of an individual other than ourselves can bring to the table.

 

23 Things I Would Tell My Younger Self.

This month I am turning 23. I absolutely love this month. I love the smell of spring and the anticipation of being able to celebrate with loved ones when that special day comes. Other peoples birthday's are one of my favorite things in the world so the excitement only increases when my turn roles around. Yet despite all that, there is always a certain level of stress that can come with turning a year older. I have felt that in years past, but looking back I see I had nothing to worry about. Many times I wish I could talk to myself when I was younger...so instead, in honor of my birthday month, here are 23 things I would tell my younger self:

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1. Wearing make up is not bad, and doesn't make you a shallow person. Same goes with fashion and shopping. 

2. Remember you do not always have to fix everything. Let your life be a mess for a little bit. This does not mean you're a failure. 

3. Availability does not equal friendship. 

4. Stop going on bread and pasta fasts. Its not worth it.

5. Its okay to be friends with your parents. 

6. Its okay to break up with friends.

7. Never be embarrassed or ashamed by your past choices.

8. Your pant size is just a number.

9. Stop trying to fit into your old clothes when they make you feel uncomfortable. You'll be back in them one day. 

10. Remember to receive grace. 

11. Sometimes you need to be selfish. 

12. 27 Dresses is not that great of a movie and you really don't need to watch it so much.

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13. Stand up for yourself. 

14. You're mom is a lot smarter than you

15. Risks are always worth it. 

16. Scary movies are more fun than Rom Coms.

17. Her success is not your failure. Celebrate the victories of others.

18. People will show you they care in different ways than you would show them, and that is a good thing. 

19. There is nothing The Office and eating ice cream can't fix. 

20. Never try to avoid being sad, with great pain comes even grater joy. 

21.  Take all the personality and love language tests, then make your friends take it.

22. Be faithful to every process.

23. I love you.


I hope you all have a happy Tuesday. You're killing it and I'm proud of who you were and who you are.

Self Confidence

Lets discuss Self-Esteem/ Self-Confidence. I have always associated self- esteem with being 13 years old, awful girls conferences, and being told make up was bad. When I was young, self esteem was not a huge issue for me. I was fortunate to have good skin, good metabolism, and generally good confidence. Yes I had my moments, but self esteem issues never consistently hung around in my young teens. Now, almost 23, its a different story. I HATE to admit I have self esteem issues. Like I said, that should be something you deal with at 13 then move on.  But that is just not the truth. It is far more complex than that.

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As I keep saying, with confidence (as with most things) there is a process.  We can go on years of soul searching and remove the bad parts from our life and mind, but believing in ourselves will always be an ongoing walk. Once I entered college, the acne started and through a combo of stress and anti anxiety meds I gained a bit of weight. These things haven't really gone away and that can be hard to deal with. I would change my eating habits and exercise consistently for a month at a time and no change would take place. Since nothing was really happening, I would give up. 

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Then a friend pointed out to me that we should not work out because we hate our body, but because we love our bodies. That really impacted me. I was incorporating healthier habits then getting mad at myself because nothing would change. But to be honest, I love the way I feel after I exercise or eat healthy. And folks, if something makes you feel good long term, that should be reason enough to stick with it.  

This does not mean you should abandon all of your old habits. I'll be real: I will never be vegan or gluten free. I love bread, meat and dairy. They're delicious and I will not give them up. I love to cook and celebrate with dessert. There are gonna be days where I indulge and I should not beat myself up for that. 

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I will also continue to love the creative world of fashion. Yes clothes can sometimes make me feel bad, but most of the time it can bring out my confidence. I get excited when I can throw on my bright yellow shirt and take on the day. I refuse to let a world of numbers and sizes defeat and shame everything God has given me. I am a child of God and that is all I need to care about. 

Any whoo, Thanks for reading my ramblings. You are beautiful and loved and I am oh so thankful for you. 

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Growing Up In A Ministry Family

My whole life I have been a pastors kid. Now my story is not of one rebellion or of being too sheltered. When I think of my life growing up in church, I think of survival. I think of trying my hardest to separate church politics with the place I gather once a week to praise God with my community. That life has not been easy.

I think a lot of people have probably felt confused about how close my family is, or how sometimes I would rather go out with my parents on a Friday instead of my friends. But when you go through what we have gone through together, I am sure it will make more sense to you. 

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Dee and Bo Photography

Here is what a lot of people may not realize when they think of people who are in a (church) ministry family... you see the business side of things. Not always, but most of the time pastors move from one job to the next within a span of five years or less. Then there is the process of finding a new job at a different church. The hiring process can take months, there are candidate visits the individual will make; generally the first on their own then if they are liked enough they may come back with their spouse and or family. Then it can be even more waiting to hear if the individual applying even got the job. Sometimes this process goes on with one church at a time... sometimes it can be even more. 

  Dee and Bo Photography

Dee and Bo Photography

Then there are all the secrets. When my dad would be searching for new jobs there were only a small number of people that could know what was going on. Because the hiring process is never certain, it would not be smart to keep many people in the loop. But keeping secrets from loved ones is never easy. Not being able to share prayer requests in my high school small group sucks, or avoiding future plans with your friends because you truly have no idea where you'll be in six months is a terrible feeling. And I wasn't the only family member experiencing this. We all felt that awful feeling in our own way. 

During these trying times all I really had was my family. Of course I had other support from friends and mentors which I am forever grateful for. But no one really got how I felt except my family. And even during the off seasons when my dad was at a steady job, we still felt that exhaustion. We still dealt with the business and political side of church as well as people who mistreated us. 

Many times I have asked myself why I never grew to hate church or the people leading in church. Mostly it is by the grace of God alone but also because The Lord knew that wasn't how I was meant to live. Every staff member of a church I have ever encountered was put there for a reason. I also know for a fact there is no person out there that is perfect at their job. We are all out there trying our best and hoping God can be glorified through it all. 

  Dee and Bo Photography

Dee and Bo Photography

I am very thankful for where God has put me now. I am thankful for a church that acknowledges where they are weak because they know God is strong. And yes I believe my family members will always be my best friends. We have gone through hell and have survived. We fought hard and came out better (although a little more tired) on the other side. When you experience something like that with multiple people, you are bonded forever. For that I am beyond grateful. 

If you have been hurt by church or have negative feelings towards it, I would love to talk to you. My social media and email accounts are all linked on my site. Don't hesitate to shoot me a message! I am so happy that there is forgiveness and healing in this crazy world. All the churches I have been to I can now look at fondly because The Lord is bigger than my anger. I am thankful they are still out there and trying their best to do Kingdom work. Love you all and thank you for reading until the end!

Friendship In Your Twenties

When I think of friendship I think of: My high school bestie riding her bike over to my house after I texted her at 8:30 pm saying I was bored, spontaneous Friday night sleepovers, or crying on the floor in my high school bathroom with one of my gal pals after a bad day.

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Then in college, friendship was all about studying with your pals for hours but only really accomplishing twenty minutes of homework.  Or coming home from classes to find two of my friends already hanging out in my living room...or watching a super weird horror movie with my roommates on a Tuesday.

These are the types of things I used to measure whether or not I had friends. Most of these examples revolve around spontaneity and constant quality time. I knew once I graduated college that was all going to change. People around me would have full time jobs, among many other commitments. Schedules would be even busier than they were in college, and I knew schedules would rarely line up. So say goodbye to all the things I loved about friendship. 

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I am so thankful that I was right and wrong all at the same time. I do not see my best friends everyday...or once a week, sometimes not even once a month. Yet as I look at my current friendships and my current season, this is the most satisfied and confident I have been with the friends I have in my life. My top love language is quality time (if you haven't figured out what yours are please open a new tab right now and take the test) so learning to be confident in the friends I have when we do not see each other all the time has not always been easy.

Here is what I believe the two key friendship components are here: intentionality and being life giving. I haven't seen one of my best friends in about five years, but she is on of the people I feel closest to. Katie calls me probably once every two weeks just to check in. Life is busy for her but she always tries her best to find time, whether its during her commute home, or when shes has a moment between errands. Sometimes the calls are short, sometimes the calls are long. But after every phone call I feel refreshed and encouraged. Despite thousands of miles, she is still one of my closest friends. 

My friends close by are also great examples. Some of them I have maybe had time to hang out with only a handful of times but wow are they incredible people. No matter how small a passing moment may be, they will come and talk to me and we do our best to catch up with the time we have. These are people that pray for me, send me random text messages and are always keeping up with communicating no matter what form may be available. 

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I want to close with this: just because someone is available to you doesn't always mean they are intentional and life giving. You don't have to put a label or expectation on what a "perfect" friendship looks like, because we are all so very different. Friendship is also a give and take. If you are always waiting for your friends to initiate with you, you are going to be lonely for a long time. The seasons of who gives and who takes will always be changing. But what should always stay the same is that the friends you have in your life make you feel like the best version of yourself that you can be. Like everything in life, friendship is a process that we all can figure out together. 

Why I Love Movies

Thank you to those who listened to me as I've geeked out about movies over the years. You are the best.

Stories. We all love them. We love to tell stories, we love to listen to stories, we love to create stories. The same goes with art. To me, movies are the perfect combination of both. 

If you know me even a little bit, you know I could talk your ear off for hours about the latest movie I have seen. But my love for movies cannot be explained in just a passing conversation. So I thought... why not write a blog post about it. 

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There was a time in my life when anything except a romantic comedy scared the living daylights out of me. I avoided anything that was even remotely scary because I would be up for days. Then a counselor I saw many years ago gave me some homework: watch a scary movie because it could help me deal with my anxiety. I went home and told my brother we needed to watch a scary movie together (He was pretty excited as I never watched movies he liked with him). So we watched Signs (Yes I know...not exactly a scary movie but I needed to start small). After the credits rolled and I noticed I didn't feel like I was about to die... I decided I wanted to explore the world of cinema outside of cheesy romantic comedies.  

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And no I didn't go binge watch all of the Saw films, but I came to a realization. A well made film is all about psychology. The more good quality films I saw (because this wasn't about watching only scary movies)...the more I was shown this. Each film has a specific color pallet that makes the human body feel different emotions. Each film score hits certain notes that cause release of different chemicals in our brain. Yet a film can act as a mirror for different viewers. When we look at ourselves in a mirror we see one thing while the person next to us sees something different, even though they are looking at the same person. Film is the same way. We can all view the same content yet most people will interpret this differently. I find it incredible that millions of people can interpret a moving picture a million different ways. 

A film can act as a film makers own diary or therapy session. They use characters, color, dialogue and music to get their feelings out into the world.  So many of these artist have a message they want to put out into the world and they all have their own style of doing so. I think Greta Gerwig said it best when she said "People need to make movies about the important questions that require long answers." A movie is a medium where hundreds of artists are bearing their heart and soul. What a unique and incredible way to get a message across. 

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I love what a film can teach us when we view it through the right lens. I learned from The Shape of Water that loneliness can drive you to the deepest form of compassion. The Babadook taught me that grief is hard to let go of, even if we may think we do not want it. About Time showed me that we need to take each and every moment by faith and it will all turn out well in the end. Movies can be a beautiful thing. I see them like a famous work of art sitting in a New York museum. They deserve to be observed, analyzed, and appreciated. 

Thank you to those who read until the end, and lets have a conversation about the movies you love.

 

International Women's Day: A Thank You Letter

Dear (female friends,family, cashiers, baristas,strangers,acquaintances, film makers, artists, musicians, co workers, mentors...you get the idea),

Happy International Women's Day! I am so thankful for everything you have done. I wanted to show my thanks to you because no matter how much or little we know each other, you've changed my life. Here I have included just a small portion of what you have done for me and for the world. I hope you know how much you mean to me. You are truly one of a kind.

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So...

Thank you for bringing me soup when I was too sick to leave the house.

Thank you for giving more than half the closet because you knew how much I loved my clothes.

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Thank you for driving 20 minutes out of your way to have lunch with me when I didn't have access to a car.

Thank you for opening two sets of doors for me when my hands were full and I was running late to class.

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Thank you for crying with me when a death left my heart broken.

Thank you for calling me on your way home from work once a week just to check in.

Thank you for all the letters, cards, and packages.

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Thank you for teaching me to not "love the sinner and hate the sin" but to simply love.

Thank you for eating McDonald's on my bed with me while we drank hard cider and telling me it will get better. 

Thank you for always pointing out my strengths and reminding me that my weaknesses do not make me lesser than. 

Thank you for introducing me to your friends.

Thank you for making movies.

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Thank you for writing your book.

Thank you for singing something so personal in front of a bunch of people who hurt you.

Thank you for opening your home to me.

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Thank you for raising amazing sons.

Thank you for raising amazing daughters.

Thank you for showing me its okay to not smile.

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Thank you for reminding me to love my body.

Thank you for reminding me its okay to be sad. 

Thank you for bringing me breakfast when I opened at work.

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Thank you for making me your maid of honor.

Thank you for making me your bridesmaid.

Thank you for laughing at my stupid jokes. 

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Thank you for supporting my dreams.

Thank you for stopping me at church so you could pray for me.

Thank you for always making me feel special every time I ordered food from you. 

Thank you for all those times you made me a cup of coffee.

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Thank you for loving...for speaking life into this dark world. Thank you for not giving up. My life is a million times better because of you. Your kindness has changed the world, so one more time I will say...Thank you.

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Mental Health and Medicine.

"Anxiety is not a part of God's plan for you."

"You just need to trust that God will heal you."

"Anxiety is a sin."

"You're not where you should be spiritually, that is why you feel this way."

These are a few things that have been said to me in my short life time. The phrases in and of themselves may seem quiet harmless and helpful, but trust me when I say typing these out honestly makes my skin crawl.  We've come a long way, but the world (and Christian's especially) still have a long way to go when it comes to mental health and medication. During the deepest valleys of my mental health journey, I had many people in my Christian community try to help me out. As good as their intentions might have been, the end result for me was shame. I thought I was doing something wrong, and therefore I was not a good Christian.

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When I found out I was going to need to start taking medication to manage my anxiety I felt even worse. I kept this a secret from my closest friends. Whenever my doctor called, I would leave the room, my heart racing. I didn't want anyone to know i had to take medicine. Medicine was for crazy people. Medicine was for people who weren't strong enough...medicine was for people who didn't have faith. 


Thankfully after I started my medication, God provided opportunities for me to share what was happening with some of the close people in my life. They assured me that I wasn't less of a person, but I was a person who was going to get better. Many years ago I was told a parable type story of a couple who was in the middle of a hurricane:  God said he would save them, and life boats came by as well as helicopters but the couple never took advantage of them because God said He was going to save them. Later when the couple arrives in heaven The Lord tells them that sending the life boats and helicopters was Him trying to save them. Maybe some will disagree but I think rejecting medicine because they believe God will heal them is just as foolish as rejecting a life boat in the middle of a storm. God created science and every human being that has become a doctor. So why wouldn't t be within The Lords will for many of us to take medicine in order to feel better? 


Every night before I go to sleep I take a number of pills. That, along with many self care practices makes me feel better. I know what it is like to be off my medication and it is a very dark place. I know The Lord doesn't want that dark place to be my everyday reality so He gave me a life boat and I took it. I thank God every day for my medicine. I am thankful that He cares enough for me to heal me and allow me to live my life to the fullest. 

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Maybe one day I won't need my medicine anymore. Maybe I will be taking medicine until the day I die. Either one is fine with me. The point of this post is not to say that medicine is the only answer to mental health issues, the point is to say that God helps us in a variety of ways. We each walk a different path, why would we waist any energy criticizing someone else?  Some people need medicine, some do not. So to those of you who are currently taking medicine for a mental health reason, I applaud you. You have taken a brave step of self care (self care is sometimes involves thing we don't want to do) and you let God have his way in how he wants to heal you.